“Life is one big road with lots of signs.
So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind.
Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.
Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality.
Wake Up and Live!”

-Bob Marley

Introduction

I think the Bob Marley quote I included from his song, “Wake up and Live,” explains the reality of life very well. The only constant in life is its dynamic nature. Something unwanted occurs, like an illness or loosing a job; something wanted does not occur, such as being able to pay for a dream vacation. And of course, things can turn out perfectly and unexpected blessings occur. But, if you feel like you’ve been on the side of many obstacles which cannot seem to be overcome, this article may help; I have included five simple strategies that may put you on the right track for overcoming a challenge.

Goats

1) Take a Walk

This is the most simple strategy, but it has helped me time and time again. Simply taking a long walk can really put a lot into perspective. I have found it most helpful to walk in a natural setting with my bare feet, but walking with shoes in the concrete jungle can be equally as helpful. You may not see a heard of goats like I did in Hampi, but you would be surprised at how something as simple as walking down the streets of your neighborhood can be so helpful.

Fernie

2) Change Your Setting

I have found one of the most useful tools for gaining a new perspective was simply changing my setting. If you live near the ocean, spend 30 minutes or an hour floating and wading in the water; if you live in the mountains, drive to a secluded area and frolic with the rabbits. If you have the time, take a vacation! Seeing cows adorned with colorful garments in India and thousands of mangos falling off trees in Mexico really gave me a deeper appreciation of life and perspectives I never thought were possible.

cow

Tampa Handstand

3) Stand on Your Head!

Inverting yourself and seeing the world upside-down is a simple way to get a whole new perspective! Of course, use a wall or tree for support, have a yoga or gymnastics instructor help if need be, and only do inversions if you are physically capable. You do not necessarily have to do a handstand or headstand to invert yourself, even downward facing dog pose is an inversion, or putting your legs on a wall as pictured below.

 exercises-hamstring-wall-stretch

If you are a little hesitant to invert yourself, a helpful tip my friend Manasa shared with me was: “Fear of Handstands often times is connected to the fear of falling and/or loosing control. The only way to get over the fear handstand-ing is to breath deeply and just try it! Don’t worry the Earth will catch you!”

Further, if you are strong, and someone comes to you with a lot of stress and many challenges, simply pick them up and turn them upside down!!!

Papantla

 4) Try Something You’ve Never Done Before

Give a stranger a hug, make lunch for a homeless person, collect flowers, go skydiving! Try something new, no matter how trivial it seems; this method has really helped me see the beauty in life and how silly it was for me to worry so much about anything. Its easy to get caught up in our worries and stresses, but its also easy to just do something extraordinarily ordinary but new to us.

bag of flowers

5) Meditate

This is the simplest yet most difficult method of all, just sitting still and focusing on the breath. There are an infinite number of ways to meditate, but by meditation in this instance, I am referring to sitting in a comfortable position, whether its cross-legged or in a chair, and simply observing the natural rise and fall of the breath. All you have to do is sit still and focus on the area just below the nostrils. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it has been translated that, “through the body, we can put a break on the mind.” If we can simply sit still for an hour, without moving, “the mind ultimately has to obey us, because it needs the body’s cooperation in order to get anything.” In this meditative state, we can naturally watch our thoughts arise and pass, like clouds moving through the air, not getting attached to what comes up. Sit for long enough, and challenges will automatically be dissolved (1).

Conclusion

Life is not always easy, and if we are bombarded with incessant challenges, it is easy to become disoriented and to lose hope. But, hope is always there, and there is always a solution to each of life’s challenges. Walking, changing your setting, inverting yourself, trying something new, and meditating are five simple tools for overcoming even the most difficult of challenges. There are times I have entered the ocean in tears and left laughing and smiling after a school of fish followed me for thousands of feet as a swam or I was able to help an elderly woman out of her chair and to the water. Life doesn’t always have to be serious, it can be light-hearted, silly, and joyous! Try one of these if you are stuck in a rut and let me know how it turns out! Also, let me know what helps you overcome challenges! Enjoy your day 🙂

comfre

Further Resources

1) Vipassana Meditation: 10 Days of Living as a Monk in the Deep South